By Jen Lucas, Pack Up + Go Contributor
Solo travel is not just for independent individuals, but rather for anyone interested in experiencing a destination and all travel has to offer. It allows for a different approach that pushes your limits. There are many benefits to solo trips, those of which I’ve experienced first hand as well as heard from others’ accounts.
Not to discount spending time with a close friend or family member, but traveling alone allows us to have access to a new pool of individuals to talk to, get advice from, and maybe even spend time with. If you’re traveling with a partner and conversing amongst yourselves, you can easily miss out on opportunities to meet people. When traveling on your own, you’ll be more prone to not only wanting to talk to someone (since you’ll get bored checking your Instagram feed every five minutes), but also more approachable and willing to seeking out others. The best travel advice I’ve found has actually been from fellow travelers or locals who offered information on where to eat, what to do, and where to go. Also, it seems that more and more travelers are going the solo route, so we’re always willing to offer information to our fellow lone wolves.
Once you reach your destination, it’s a lot easier to plan out your agenda, or wing it if you want to. That’s because as a solo traveler, you can do whatever you want! I’ve traveled with others, and it usually consists of lots of pre-trip research, and mapping out what each of us would like to do. All this work usually just results in the less than desirable act of compromising in the interest of others. When traveling alone, you get to call the shots! Determine if you want to plan out every minute, be spontaneous and get insight from all of the new friends you’ll meet (from above), or just wander aimlessly until something speaks to you.
Treating yo self
Lone adventures are also a time to reconnect with yourself. You can set aside the external demands of everyday life and other people, and simply treat yo self. Back in the real world, you are most likely serving others. Be it listening to your boss 40+ hours a week, or taking care of children, spouses, and parents, you have very little time to spend caring for yourself. Being in a new place, on your own time, and doing what you choose, can be very beneficial for you. You’ll be more inclined to splurge on a nice meal or buy yourself a cool souvenir, and you definitely should!
Appreciating the small things
When you find yourself wandering around a new locale without the chatter of a travel partner, you’ll be able to appreciate what’s around you, and not solely focus on the popular tourist spots. Instead, you’ll be more inclined to truly savor the local cuisine, notice the sights and smells, and appreciate the daily hustle and bustle around you.
While on a recent solo trip to Valencia, Spain I found myself climbing a narrow, circular staircase up to the tower of the local cathedral. As I took in the view from all angles, I was able to observe the magnificent sites from above the rooftops, and hear at least four different church bells ringing in various parts of the city. Instead of sharing this experience with another, which would most likely involve listening and talking about it for five minutes, I chose to simply take it all in, enjoy, and smile.
After mustering up the courage to go on a solo adventure, you’ll most likely return feeling refreshed, clear-minded, and accomplished, as you were able to navigate and take pleasure in a place unaccompanied. Although you should have plenty of stories to tell, nothing will compare to the experiences you’ll have etched permanently in your mind, and the memories kept just for your own enjoyment.
If you’re like me and value time alone, or are itching to book a surprise trip with Pack Up + Go but finding it nearly impossible to coordinate with others, I suggest pulling the trigger. Go to their site, fill out the online survey and choose one of the solo traveler options. And don’t forget your selfie stick!